Today’s guest post comes from one of my favorite bloggers, Fabiola Rodriguez Licona. Fabiola blogs at myheartofmexico.wordpress.com. On her website, you’ll find not only articles about Mexican cuisine but posts about a lot of other subjects of special interest to expats living in Mexico. Prickly pears are now piled high on stands in the San Miguel Tuesday market. There, you can purchase them peeled or you can do like Fabiola Rodriguez Licona and prep your own. Here are Fabiola’s words:
First of all, prickly pears are the sweetest, juiciest, most delicious fruit there is. I’m serious! I’m pretty sure the nopal cactus has thorns only to protect this precious little fruit. It’s so sweet, it could be coated with sugar.
Second of all, prickly pears are healthy. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Eating cactus and prickly pears is great for diabetes patients because they help stabilize glucose. Also, they’re delicious. Did I already mention that?
Finally, you should know I come from a place that has a cactus and prickly pears as a part of its national symbols. The Mexican flag has an ancient Aztec symbol in the center – an eagle standing on a cactus and holding a snake. If you look closely, you’ll see the cactus has prickly pear fruit on it. How about that?
In Mexico, prickly pears are called “tunas“, and summer is when they are in season. Here in Central Mexico, you can find them at any market or supermarket from May to September. Better yet, you can drive out to the nopal cactus fields and buy a whole crate of sweet, ripe tunas for a bargain price.
Once you get home, you’ll want to savor these little gems. Did you know they go perfectly well with tequila? There is nothing like having a glass of fine tequila with a platter of tunas on the side. That’s the sweet life!
There are several different colors of prickly pears. They’re all juicy and sweet, they just have slightly different flavors. My favorite is the tuna blanca, or white prickly pear. Those are grown in the area where I live, and they are not really white but honeydew green. Yum!
However, be careful! You don’t want to have a nasty experience and get thorns all over your precious fingers. So, before you dive into that tuna crate, follow these instructions.
First thing you should know is you can’t just touch a prickly pear. When you buy them, they look harmless. No thorns, right? Wrong! Prickly pear skin has teeny tiny little blisters that are really bothersome if they get stuck on your fingers. But don’t worry! You’ll be fine if you just don’t grab them with the palm of your hand. Are you ready? Let’s do this!
1. Take the prickly pear and hold it at both ends.
2. Slice one end of the prickly pear, but don’t cut it all the way off.
3. Slice the other end the same way.
4. Cut the skin lengthwise.
5. Carefully, pull the skin off.
6. Put the prickly pears in a platter and they’re ready to eat!
You can see in the pictures I’m peeling the prickly pears with my bare hands. That’s because I’ve been peeling them for a long time and one or two little blisters don’t bother me. I just tweeze them right out! But if you have never peeled prickly pears before, I suggest you wear gloves. Regular plastic gloves should be fine.
I forgot to tell you that prickly pears are full of little, hard seeds. Don’t worry! There’s no chance you’ll have a cactus growing in your stomach if you eat them. You can spit them out if you want, or you could juice the prickly pears and filter out the seeds. Or you could also not be picky and eat them. The seeds are full of fiber and that’s partly the reason why prickly pears are so nutritious. Seeds are good for you!
Now, if my baby girl can eat a prickly pear with seeds and all, I’m sure you can too!
So, are you ready to eat a prickly pear? Do it! You’ll love it.
You’ll find a lot more about prickly pears here: http://dondayinsma.com/2015/11/21/getting-my-hooks-into-some-tasty-tunas/